When St. Louis born T.S. Eliot wrote "The Wasteland" and penned the the line "April is the cruelest month", he had no idea what April would look like in ninety-eight years but this year, the line fits the month.

For Eliot, the poem is more about the cycle of life and death, rebirth and renewal but it's not always simple or easy. Spring is often a joyous season as the grass green, the trees leaf out and flowers bloom. The days are often bright with sunshine, the nights cool but not cold.

This year, however, the line struck me as description of the current status.

It's April. This month should be a time of celebration.

Easter was muted as we celebrated outside of churches, held dinners without all family members and even the Easter bunny had to be low-key in his travels.

Prom is often held in April, a rite of passage for most teenagers and an evening to remember. In what seems like another world, I brought my camera to Big Spring Park to take prom pictures with my son and his date on an April morning. We went early to avoid the larger crowds and the park was glorious in springtime beauty. A few years earlier in April, my husband and I raced around town with our girls before settling on the Neosho National Fish Hatchery as a place to take prom photos. We chose it because we waited until afternoon and the parks were full. Choosing dresses with my daughters for prom is a priceless memory and helping my son choose a tux that turned a high school student into a sharp dressed man is another.

This should be the month when school kids of all ages are heading off on fun field trips, enjoying outdoor activities, and more.

Seniors should be anticipating graduation. As a journalist, this should be a busy season for me with my calendar filled with activities and events to cover but this year, my pages are mostly blank.

This year, COVID-19 has changed all that. Life as we knew it, as we expected it is on hold.

April is a time for planting and many are putting in gardens. It's a time when we often took the kids on impromptu picnics to Big Spring Park or beside the sparkling waters of Hickory Creek at Morse Park.

As the world bursts into springtime glory, we are struggling with the new normal.

We're surrounded with spring beauty and yet we've spent the month practicing social distancing, some traveling no farther than the front porch or back yard. At the park, as at the store if we venture out to shop, we must keep strict guidelines for health and safety.

It's a different April than any I have ever know and this year, the words of one of my favorite poets nails exactly how I feel - April this year is the cruelest month.

I hope that the rest of the year will not follow suit.

-Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is the community editor and sole journalist and only photographer for The Neosho Daily News and The Aurora Advertiser. She is also a freelance writer and novelist.